Entering the realm of tattoos has always felt like a daring leap for me. For years, I danced around the idea, unsure if I was ready to permanently etch something onto my skin. However, the stars aligned, and I finally took the plunge, deciding to honor my late mom and dad with a meaningful tattoo. So, on March 13, 2021, I took the plunge and got inked!
The turtle and rose tattoo
I opted for a unique design: a turtle with a delicately engraved rose on its back to encapsulate their enduring togetherness. I recall agonizing over what to get once I decided to get inked. I knew I wanted something that would represent them both. The idea of the turtle and the rose came to me separately and then I had an “ah-ha” moment. What if I could get the rose as the design on the back of the turtle instead of the regular turtle shell? I spent days trying to find a turtle and rose photo I liked. Next, I reached out to one of the best, if not the best, tattoo artists in Jamaica, Phillip (aka Tattoo Phillip). Best decision ever! Phillip listened to the story behind why I wanted this tattoo, answered all my questions, alleviated my fears, and found me the right rose to match my turtle, then created my design. I couldn’t have been happier.
My dad had an inexplicable fascination with turtles. To him, I figured they symbolized longevity, wisdom, and an unyielding love that transcended time. I remember him being in the hospital and his only concern was, “Who’s feeding my turtles?” Not to worry Dad, they are still being fed. They don’t have your great company anymore, but we do try.
My mom, on the other hand, had an undeniable affection for roses – her name was Rose, after all. It still surprises me that, albeit not one with a green thumb, she did have a lovely rose plant in her garden, and to be fair, she did try with a few plants, but she would tell you that wasn’t her thing.
Tattoo as an art form
Tattoos, as an art form, have a rich history that spans cultures and civilizations. The practice of adorning the body with ink transcends time, dating back thousands of years to ancient societies where tattoos were more than decorative; they have been used to signify rites of passage, express cultural identity, or simply adorn the body with meaningful symbols, while some were carriers of deep, often sacred meanings.
The evolution of society's perception of tattoos mirrors the dynamic nature of human expression. Once considered taboo, relegated to the fringes of societal acceptance, tattoos have emerged from the shadows to become mainstream, embraced by people from all walks of life. What was once a mark associated with rebellion or counterculture has evolved into a celebrated form of self-expression, a canvas on which individuals paint the narrative of their journeys. The once rebellious act is now a revered art form, appreciated for its ability to encapsulate stories, emotions, and memories in a way that words alone often cannot.
Read National Geographic’s, “The ancient history of tattoos—revealed by inked-up mummies.”
My tattoo process
I arrived apprehensive, yet resolute that this would not be painful, and I would survive and emerge alive with a beautiful tattoo. Luckily, I am not afraid of needles. As Phillip prepared to embark on my skin, I couldn't help but crack a nervous joke about willingly subjecting myself to a series of tiny needle pricks. The buzzing sound of the tattoo machine echoed in the room, creating an oddly soothing ambiance coupled with Phillip’s playlist that sounded much like one I like to listen to. It was as if the hum of the needle served as a rhythmic dance, painting the canvas of my skin with the story of my parents.
The process was surprisingly bearable, considering the stories I'd heard about the pain associated with tattoos and my pain level threshold, which is at best zero most of the time. Phillip was even surprised that I had hardly flinched, much less batted an eye. Each prick brought with it a blend of emotions, from laughter to introspection, as memories of my parents flooded my mind. The turtle, with its slow and steady pace, reminded me of my dad – easy like Sunday morning. It was also a reminder that love, like the turtle's journey, is a lifelong adventure. The rose, delicately engraved on the turtle's back, spoke to my mom's love for roses and the beauty that blossoms even in the most unexpected places.
The entire process took roughly an hour; from finalizing the design, to correct placement, to sketching it on my body, to finally - the inking. By the way, I deliberately chose to place the tattoo over my heart because that’s where my mom and dad will always live.
Introspection on my new tattoo
This tattoo is more than just ink on my skin; it's a living tribute to my parents – a forever story, a forever memory. The fusion of the turtle and the rose represents the timeless connection between them, transcending the boundaries of then and now.
As I gazed at the finished tattoo, a wave of emotions surged within me. It was a beautiful amalgamation of art and sentiment and the profound impact our loved ones leave on us. At that moment, I understood the allure of tattoos – the ability to freeze a moment, a feeling, a connection, in the delicate lines of ink.
As I reflect on this transformative experience, I am reminded of the quote by Rumi, "The wound is the place where the light enters you." My tattoo is my wound, a place where the light of my parents' love enters me every day.
Things to consider before getting a tattoo
What are you getting and why? Make sure it has significant meaning and it’s something you will want to live with for the rest of your life. Tattoo removal is expensive, and so is living with regrets.
Placement – ask yourself why you want it in that specific location.
Know your risks – such as allergic reactions, keloid development, etc. Speak to your dermatologist if you are overly concerned and have previous allergic reactions to dyes, etc.
Do your homework – make sure the tattoo artist is reputable - get recommendations, review his/her work, and examine the shop and surroundings.
Ask the tattoo artist all the questions you want – even if they sound asinine. It’s better to be an ass than live with regrets. If they are bothered by your questions, then don’t let them be bothered with getting your money.
Budget and plan for it. Tattoos are not necessarily cheap – the bigger you go, the bigger the price point.
Reconcile with your pain threshold and fear of needles. You don’t want to be jumping up and down while being tattooed.
Post-tattoo care is crucial – you don’t want to end up with infections – follow the instructions you have been given. And for heaven's sake, do not scratch it no matter how much it itches - slab on some ointment and count to 10!
If you are getting tattoos with words, make sure they are spelled correctly. If getting symbols in other languages, make sure you know the true meaning of that symbol – you don’t want a symbol that means pig feet tattooed on your shoulder.
A tattoo is a personal choice – you decide on what’s right for you!
Watch: Turtle Adventures
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Welcome to my blog, "Penned Inspiration," an expressive hub where I find joy in sharing my inspirations and stories. I am Deon Cecile, a Jamaican Writer, Blogger, and Aspiring Author. This space is dedicated to stories about Women Over 40, Wellness, Lifestyle, Organizing, Decluttering, and pretty much anything that I find fun and inspiring. I invite you to delve into my content today and discover something that may help/inspire you, or make you smile. I hope you enjoy reading and please feel free to leave a comment or idea below, I'd love to hear from you.
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